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Bucharest
May 18, 2021
SPORTS

CL: Steaua and Legia share hunger to return

FC Steaua Bucuresti go in search of a first group stage appearance in five years when they host Legia Warszawa in Bucharest on the National Arena on Wednesday night, according to uefa.com. If Steaua, champions of Europe in 1986, think five years is a long time to wait, it is worth noting that Legia have been absent for considerably longer – their one and only appearance in the group stage was back in 1995/96. Romanian title holders Steaua are seeking their seventh participation in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
Laurentiu Reghecampf’s team have overcome FYROM’s NK Vardar (5-1 agg) and FC Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia (3-1 agg) to reach this stage, while Legia are here thanks to victories over The New Saints FC (4-1 agg) and Molde FK, edging past the latter on away goals after a 1-1 aggregate draw.
“We have spoken about the performances of the past which honour the club, and about our predecessors who have given Steaua such great European memories,” coach Laurentiu Reghecampf said. “We hope from the bottom of our hearts to get to the end of August and qualify for the Champions League group stage.”
Steaua have put together long runs in the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Cup in recent years, contesting the semi-finals in 2005/06 and the round of 16 last term, but ambitious captain Alexandru Bourceanu has eyes only for the UEFA Champions League.
“We speak about history and about the qualifications achieved more recently by very good Steaua teams of the last decade,” said the 28-year-old midfielder. “Nevertheless, if we don’t manage to qualify for the Champions League group stage, reaching the Europa League will still feel like a disappointment. We have a huge desire to qualify, especially as it would be the first time for all our current players.”
It is to be mentioned that Legia Warszawa have been ordered to close part of their stadium for their next European home game and fined EUR 30,000 as per UEFA’s new, tougher sanctions to fight racism in football, uefa.com reports. The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body has charged the Polish club under Article 14 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations (DR) on racism, other discriminatory conduct and propaganda, in relation to incidents in Legia’s encounters with TNS on 17 and 24 July.
Italian Nicola Rizzoli, who refereed the last Champions League final (Bayern – Borussia Dortmund  2-1) will be the central referee of the Steaua – Legia match in Bucharest.

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